Bohemian Buddhist Review

Rebel Buddha by Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche

Interested in your inner Buddha?

Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche's new book of Buddhist wisdom, "Rebel Buddha," couldn't have come at a more appropos moment as the world searches for both inner and outer freedom. Eschewing form over function, Rinpoche enjoins us all to find "the rebel within" -- the voice of our own that demands freedom, notwithstanding the cultural packages we inherit or adopt.
This is exactly what's happening in the world at large and I suspect that with Uranus in Aries (until 2020 or thereabouts), we are in for quite a ride, comparable to the transformative upheavals of the 1960's.
"Rebel Buddha," sub-titled On the Road to Freedom, is a timely and important reminder of how to connect our compassion to these tumultuous times, difficult as this may be sometimes.  It behooves us to remember why so much of the sixties' political angst ended in partisan anger, thus aborting much of the forward momentum that was created.  Many of us became discouraged and/or disillusioned; divisiveness rushed in to fill the vacuum.
Buddhism entered mainstream Western consciousness at about this time, as if to point out the difference between justified anger and mirror-like wisdom that sees the causes of injustice -- but then acts calmly and compassionately to change them -- if possible.
As the Buddha and many other great teachers have said, Anger only creates more anger.  So if we are to have peaceful social/political/environmental revolutions -- all of which are greatly needed if we are to survive as a viable species -- we must also simultaneously connect to our compassion, for ourselves and all other suffering sentient beings. 
"The basic seed of compassion is present at all times in the minds of all beings -- whether human, animal, or any other kind of creature that may be out there," writes Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche.  "No matter how horrible a person may be, this seed of compassion will manifest in some form in his or her life.  Yes, there are ruthless, callous tyrants, past and present, who have wreaked havoc on the world and caused incalculable suffering.  And there are people who trade the happiness and welfare of their families  and friends for some measure of wealth, power, or fame every single day.  We look at someone like this and think, 'Surely this person is hopeless.'  We see no spark of decency, no wholesomeness, no honesty in that person.
"That's how far we can fall from grace, so to speak.  We can almost lose our connection to our awakened nature.  Yet deep in the heart of even the most corrupt or primitive of beings, there's still a basic sense of compassion.  There's something to connect to.  No one is hopeless.  There's a quality of softness, a potential for greatness, a sense of vulnerability that they're usually afraid of showing.  Maybe it's that they fall in love or have a passion for music or art, but there's always something that reveals a connection to their humanity.  Even the most ferocious animal predators that eat their prey alive will tenderly nurture their own young.
"This seed of compassion, this sense of openness, softness, and warmth is what we need to connect with now.  The more genuine we can be, honest with ourselves and without pretension or guile in relation to others, the more aware we become of all the potentiality that exists around us.  The world becomes more brilliant, more surprising and fresh, and even more endearing.  On this journey, it's natural to fall in love with the world.  In spite of its suffering and its dizzying confusion, it's also a world of great beauty and power that nurtures and sustains us on many levels.  That's why we create art and enjoy it; it's the reason we sing and dance, play games, tell stories, and wonder why an apple falls from a tree at a certain rate.  We create problems, to be sure, and then we try to solve them, which we sometimes do.  We're a work in progress. (BoBu Review italics.)
"Compassion or altruism, then, is not about being perfect or just doing good; it's about this daring heart that cherishes others and life itself.  We may never save the world, but our actions do help in profound ways because they arise spontaneously from love.  That may sound like a romantic notion, because we have this idea that love is blind.  It can be irrational and impractical.  But our deep feeling for the world can also generate further wakefulness rather than obscuring our vision and power of reason.  When we're guided by intelligence, our actions are not impulsive.  A genuinely spontaneously action is skillful; it is precise and appropriate, takes in the whole context, and moves situations in the direction they should go.  Regardless of our intention, an action is not actually compassionate if it doesn't help.
". . . So it's better to think about how we can bring this heart of compassion into our life in a practical way.  Each of us will have subtle differences in how we do it...This is a very personal, inner journey...We're closing the gap between spiritual and mundane, up and down, self and other. This is the way we transform our path from a problem to be solved or a goal to be attained into a way of life that's genuinely meaningful and beneficial. At the same time, we can't be certain of what we'll meet along the way, so it's also an adventure." In this way, our road to freedom on the outer level leads to inner freedom, where we may actually encounter our inner Buddha.